NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY)- On seas around the globe, formidable Naval strike groups are a powerful reminder of U.S. efforts to ensure peace and stability in commerce and geopolitics. But below the surface, some of the nation’s stealthiest and potent operators move in secrecy, going months without surfacing.
Recently, 10 On Your Side’s Hayley Milon participated in the “Sailor for a Day” program, spending a week with crews in various Navy communities. She explored the training and lifestyle of Norfolk-based submariners.
Petty Officer Second Class James McCollough of USS New Hampshire said that submariners’ vital role to national security is not lost on him or his boatmates.
“Being isolated in a way, and knowing that my mission is as important as it is,” he said, “It’s really uplifting knowing I have my foot in the door of the forefront of the nation’s security. It’s definitely humbling.”
McCollough, originally from Stafford in northern Virginia, is a fire technician. He develops imagery of the vessel’s ever-changing surroundings, working closely with sonar equipment. Much of what he does on the boat is classified, but he said his Naval career led to experiences he never imagined.
“There are parts of my job I’m not able to talk about, things I’ve been able to experience that I wouldn’t if I wasn’t in the Navy,” McCollough said. “If my Naval career didn’t go the way it went, I wouldn’t be here doing something I have no issue doing for the rest of my life.”
To serve on a sub, sailors must undergo rigorous training to combat possible onboard disasters. At Submarine Learning Facility Norfolk, sailors learn to be plumbers under pressure, stopping various leaks and pipe bursts. They also train as firefighters in a two-story fire simulator.
McCollough, meanwhile, has no plans to leave the military any time soon.
“I’m absolutely addicted to this,” McCollough said.